What is Presbyterianism?

John Calvin

In the Christian religion, Presbyterianism, whose bodies are also called Reformed Churches, share a common origin in the 16th-century Swiss Reformation and the teachings of John Calvin, and today is one of the largest Christian denominations in Protestantism.

There are about 75 million Reformed or Presbyterian Christians worldwide; about 2.5 million belong to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The name "Presbyterian" comes from the representational form of church government called presbyterian. In presbyterian churches, governing authority is given to elected lay leaders known as "elders" (or "presbyters"), who work with the congregation's ordained minister. Presbyterian belief and practice center on the Bible and the sovereignty of God.

More on Presbyterian and Reformed Churches

John Calvin

Presbyterian and Reformed churches have their historical roots in the thought of John Calvin, a 16th-century French reformer. Calvin trained for the Catholic priesthood at the University of Paris and later as a lawyer, but he eventually converted to the Reformation movement and became a theologian and minister. He wrote a great deal during his career, including Bible commentaries and the Institutes of the Christian Religion, a work of systematic theology.

Presbyterianism in-depth

Timeline of Presbyterian History

Learn more about the important dates in Presbyterian history.

Presbyterian History

Read about the major events that shaped this Christian denomination.

Presbyterian Beliefs

Find out what makes Presbyterianism unique and also where they unite with other Christians.

Presbyterian Practices

Learn more about the special activities of this denomination.

Presbyterian Organization

Discover how the Presbyterian church is arranged.

Presbyterian/Reformed Churches in the USA

Read about this branch of Reformed churches in America.

Presbyterian Church in Canada

Read about this branch of Reformed churches in Canada.

Presbyterian/Reformed Churches in Europe & Australia

Read about this branch of Reformed churches in other parts of the Western world.

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